I have written before on the topic of onboarding and at the time I mentioned that I didn't like blogs and websites that compared good and bad on-boarding flows without giving data to back it up. In that post I talked about the fact that with a login page shown up-front most developers would see a drop-off rate of somewhere between 50-70%. Thinking back on it now, I think there is some value in showing the good versus the bad.
I'll start with the bad, since it was the major focus of the last article. These three apps, Netflix, Wordpress and Pandora, have single page on-boarding flows that consist of just a login. Now Netflix, Wordpress and Pandora have a reputation that precedes them and most of the people who download their apps already have accounts. This means that most people come to their apps knowing what to expect and are probably more than happy to dispense with pleasantries and just log in. But for the vast majority of apps, this is not the case, and most people that are convinced to download an app, don't really know what to expect when they first load it up. And yet the vast majority of apps that require a login, present their users with this type of on-boarding flow or something similar.
Users may have been convinced to click the download button, but that doesn't mean they are guaranteed to understand what they're getting into or that they will give you their data without a bit more coaxing and information. So when users are presented with this type of on-boarding flow, inevitably 50-70% of people who downloaded the app look at the login page and leave, most likely deleting the app in the process.
This is regularly considered to be the biggest problem area in the industry, but it is so rare that anyone actually does differently that when I see a good on-boarding flow it stands out. I happened to download the Codecademy app recently and was struck by how well they handle the on-boarding process, that I wanted to share it as an example of what you should be doing.
I only took a few screenshots, but you can get a sense of what happens. Instead of requiring a login the Codecademy app blurs the lines between on-boarding and actual app functionality. I always suggest blending elements of information, tutorial and actual app functionality to give the best experience to your first time users, but Codecademy takes it one step further. They take you step-by-step through a basic coding exercise, requiring little to no effort, but gradually educating the user as to what to expect.
By the time they bring you into the app, you are fully educated and ready to use the app and as part of the early exercise you gave Codecademy your first name. This means that you are already comfortable giving Codecademy some information and users will be far more likely to sign up or log in after going through this process.
I urge app developers to do this in their app if they can. Give users as much information as possible, and as great of an opportunity to try out your core product as possible. If you do you can easily change your user retention rates from abysmal to promising. This can mean improvements of 50% or more and with the competitive nature of the app market, it can be the difference between success and failure.